Tags: isaac | fdic | obama | economy

Obama Dodging Economic Debate

Monday, 10 Sep 2012 01:17 PM

By William Isaac

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Image: Obama Dodging Economic Debate
I’m deeply concerned about the fiscal and economic crises facing our nation and believe we need new leadership to turn around the economy and create millions of new jobs. For the first time ever I’m raising campaign funds and expressing my political views publicly.

I’m hearing four primary talking points from those who support President Barack Obama’s re-election:

1. Romney wants to return to the failed economic policies that led us into the economic mess we are in today.

This is tired political rhetoric and is simply false. No one is proposing a return to the past. Moreover, both political parties are responsible for our problems.

Democrats from President Clinton to Reps. Barney Frank and Nancy Pelosi pushed Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to eviscerate their credit underwriting standards, which led directly to the housing bubble and crash. The Bush administration and many Republicans in Congress fought it every step of the way without success.

President Bush too seldom used his veto to reject unsustainable spending bills sent to him by a Democratic Congress. Former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson and the Bush administration mishandled the 2008 financial crisis and created a severe financial meltdown. They also promoted the ill-conceived TARP legislation to bail out Wall Street.

Sen. Obama urged passage of TARP, and as president expanded it to bail out car companies. Instead of focusing like a laser on fixing the economy, President Obama wasted his first two years in office, when he had a strong majority in both Houses of Congress, cramming down a badly flawed healthcare reform bill that adds over a trillion dollars to the deficit.

He also pushed through a financial reform bill that would not have prevented the last crisis, won't prevent the next one, and will destroy community banks.

He ignored recommendations of the bipartisan commission he appointed to address our severe fiscal crisis and increased the national debt from $10 trillion to $16 trillion in less than four years.

Neither George Bush nor Barack Obama single-handedly created the economic crisis facing our nation. There’s plenty of blame to go around.
The questions are: How are we going to fix the problems and move our great nation forward, and which person — Mitt Romney or Barack Obama — is best prepared to get the job done?

Mitt Romney appears eager to have that debate, and Barack Obama seems determined to change the subject.

2. Romney wants to reduce taxes on the rich and increase taxes on the
middle class.


There are no facts to support this oft-repeated charge. Mitt Romney proposes to cut all tax rates across the board by 20 percent. He wants the tax cuts to be “revenue neutral,” so he proposes to reduce or eliminate tax deductions for upper income taxpayers — those who earn $250,000 or more. By definition, this program will reduce taxes on the middle class.

Romney’s proposal will create a fairer and simpler tax code. Most economists believe that reducing tax rates across the board will stimulate the economy, as it did when Presidents Kennedy and Reagan cut taxes. Economic growth is essential to reducing deficits and creating jobs.

3. Romney’s policies are anti-women.

This is a sweeping indictment, but my sense is that people expressing this feeling are focused specifically on abortion rights. One woman who received a pro-Romney email from me wrote, “I support abortion rights; consider me unsubscribed.”

Romney’s father and mother were married for 64 years. His mother was a political activist and ran for the U.S. Senate in Michigan with her husband’s unwavering support.

Mitt has been married to Ann Romney for 43 years. He is a devoted husband who has been at Ann’s side through her battles with multiple sclerosis and breast cancer.

He has spent a lifetime respecting, supporting, and honoring women. As governor of Massachusetts, Romney selected a woman lieutenant governor, and 50 percent of his Cabinet and senior staff were women. His management teams at the Olympics and Bain Capital included many women in the senior positions.

4. Romney is a heartless rich guy who doesn’t know or care about the
concerns of ordinary people.


Romney is rich, but he earned every penny. He inherited money when his father died and gave it to charity. He pays “only” a 15 percent tax rate because nearly all of his income is capital gains from the long-term buyout of his interest in Bain Capital. Romney also consistently gives 15 percent or so of his income to charity.

I attended my very first political convention in Tampa. If you didn’t see the two families who gave speeches about how Mitt Romney ministered to them when he was pastor of their church in Boston and their children were facing death, I urge you to listen to the speeches on the Internet. My wife and I had tears streaming down our faces during those two talks.

Women and men alike want the security that comes from a strong economy, good educational opportunities, and a sound safety net that will deliver on the promises we have made. Mitt Romney is a remarkable person, and his track record over a lifetime shows that he will work across the political aisle and get the job done.

William Isaac was the chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation from 1981-1985, and is currently a senior managing director of FTI Consulting. He serves as global head of FTI Consulting’s Financial Institutions group. 

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